This is why Republicans put aside their doubts to vote for Trump, and it’s why they stick with him. This is the prize they kept their eyes on, and it’s paying off for them bigtime.
President Donald Trump on Thursday said he is nominating two Texans to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett and Dallas attorney James Ho.
“Both of these gentlemen, I think, will do an outstanding job,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said during a conference call with reporters.
They would need to be confirmed by the Senate.
Willett, a well-known Twitter user, has served on the state Supreme Court since 2005. During the 2016 presidential race, Trump had named Willett as a potential choice for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ho is the former solicitor general of Texas. He has also served as chief counsel for Cornyn.
Even after Thursday’s announcements, Trump has a host of vacancies left to fill in Texas. He has yet to fill two U.S. attorney positions, including the post in the Southern District, which is the busiest in the country. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s son Ryan Patrick is rumored to be the president’s choice for that post.
Trump also has six federal district court seats to fill, several of which have been classified as judicial emergencies. One of those seats has been open since 2011.
Neil Gorsuch gets all the attention as a tainted selection that resulted from extreme partisan obstruction, but don’t overlook all those district court and appellate court positions that have been open for years, with our two Senators refusing to allow any Obama nominations to be considered, let alone voted on. Willett and Ho are the beneficiaries of this from a professional standpoint, but one young and reliably conservative guy in a robe is as good as any other. This isn’t about qualifications – Willett and Ho are perfectly credible choices – it’s about opportunity, and about partisan cohesion. Don Willett and James Ho will be affecting public policy way longer than Donald Trump will. The Chron has more.
As I said, Willett and Ho are qualified to be judges – they’re not who I’d pick, but they fall within accepted norms for the job. Some nominees do not, but it’s going to take recognition of that in the right places to keep them out.
Texas U.S. Sen. John Cornyn raised fresh doubts Thursday about the White House nomination of assistant state Attorney General Jeff Mateer to be a federal judge in Texas.
Mateer, in a pair of speeches in 2015, reportedly referred to the rights of transgender children as part of “Satan’s plan” and defended the controversial practice of “conversion therapy” for gays.
Cornyn, commenting publicly for the first time since Mateer’s speeches were unearthed this month by CNN, said the speeches apparently were not disclosed to him as they should have been under a screening process set up by him and Sen. Ted Cruz.
“We requested that sort of information about speeches and the like on his application,” said Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate. “And to my knowledge there was no information given about those, so it’s fair to say I was surprised.”
Cornyn said Thursday that he is reevaluating Mateer’s nomination in light of the undisclosed speeches as well as other public utterances.
“I am evaluating that information, and I understand there may be even addition information other than that which has previously been disclosed,” he said in a conference call with Texas reporters.
Cornyn, formerly a Texas Supreme Court Justice, said there should be no “religious test” for judges. “But it is important,” he added, “that all of our judges be people who can administer equal justice under the law and can separate their personal views from their duties as a judge.”
He added: “Because the information had not been previously disclosed, we were not able to have that kind of conversation with Mr. Mateer, so we’ve got some work to do.”
Ted Cruz, of course, has no such qualms, because he’s Ted Cruz. Note that Cornyn has left himself a lot of wiggle room here. His primary concern here is that Mateer may have more such, let’s say “intemperate”, remarks in his past that he hasn’t told the likes of Cornyn about. Big John can handle a little gay-bashing, but he doesn’t like to be surprised. As long as Mateer makes a few perfunctory statements about how of course he believes in equal justice for all and would never ever ever treat anyone unfairly in his courtroom, and as long as no more embarrassing video turns up, Cornyn will be happy to support him. Eyes on the prize, you know.